Legendary Passages #0049 - The Epitaph of Seikilos -
The world's oldest song from antiquity.
The next two episodes will be a departure from mythological texts. This time we shall focus an ancient melody. The intro music for this podcast is called the Seikilos Epitaph, and is the oldest known musical composition.
It was engraved on a cylindrical tombstone known as a stele, and discovered near Aydin, Turkey, not too far from Ephesus. It is at least 2000 years old.
It was dug up in 1883, and the base was sawn off so it could be used as a pedestal for a flowerpot. It was rediscovered at the end of the Greco-Turkish war in 1922, and was eventually transported to a museum in Copenhagen, were it stands today.
The stone reads:
“I am a tombstone, an image.
Seikilos placed me here
as an everlasting sign
of deathless remembrance”
There are two more words, which either say 'Seikilos to Euterpe,' presumibly his wife, or 'Siekilos, son of Euterpos.'
The last line of text has been worn away.
In addition to the dedication and the musical notation, it has lyrics written in Ionian Greek, of which we shall review three different translations.
Next episode is a Q&A session and not to be missed.
The Epitaph of Seikilos,
a Legendary Passage,
from a Greek Tombstone,
found near Aydin, Turkey.
Lyrics from Wikipedia.org -
While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands an end.
Lyrics from TheSession.org -
Shine as long as you live
Do not be sad
For life is too short
And time calls for its end.
Lyrics from CJhayesPHD.com -
While you’re alive, shine:
Never let your mood decline.
We’ve a brief span of life to spend:
Time necessitates an end.